Javier Jaén explores infinite design possibilities with Adobe Firefly
Javier Jaén is an accomplished designer by every measure. His work has been exhibited from New York, to London, to El Salvador, to Seoul. He is one of just 510 members of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). And in 2020, he was named one of Spain’s most creative people.
Even with all these accolades to his name, Jaén’s curiosity and passion for communications are as strong as ever. He constantly experiments with new design mediums and technologies, from 3D printing to cutting-edge solutions like Adobe Firefly, a family of creative generative AI models designed for safe commercial use.
“From my early days in graphic design, to my studies in fine art, to the work I do today, I’ve always been more concerned with what I say than how I say it,” says Jaén. “My goal is to express my ideas in a unique way that speaks to my audience, and I’ll happily explore any tool that can help me accomplish that.”
Since beginning to experiment with Firefly in Adobe Photoshop, Jaén has uncovered new ways to tell stories and connect through his art, in parallel, he appreciates the ways that generative AI simplifies his creative process.
“When you cut the extraneous from your process, you can be incredibly straightforward in the way you conceive, create, and share art with the world. It’s not about laziness, it’s about stripping away the noise to gain focus,” he says.
Inspired by perfect imperfections
Jaén recently began using Adobe Firefly for client work, specifically to develop the theme and poster for a major exhibition at Barcelona’s CCCB museum. Appropriately titled AI: Artificial Intelligence, the exhibition explores the history, possibilities, and ethical considerations around AI, a “decisive technology for the future of humankind.”
Jaén’s tongue-in-cheek design was inspired by the infinite monkey theorem, which states that an ape hitting random keys on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will eventually type out every text imaginable, including the complete works of William Shakespeare. This is a statement onthe way AI algorithms generate content by combining and processing huge volumes of language data at speed to deliver thousands of outputs.
For Jaén, the joy of using Adobe Firefly lies in the “perfect imperfections” that came through in his final designs. For instance, many of the typewriters used by the monkeys in his exhibition posters are facing the wrong way. Without strict guidelines on how to orient a typewriter, Adobe Firefly generated multiple images with this improbable scenario, a healthy reminder that AI is only as effective as the prompts it receives.
“The early days of a new technology are fun because you get to work through the glitches and find gold in the process. A flipped typewriter here, a stretched limb there – these tiny imperfections in AI-generated designs are the pixels of 2023,” says Jaén.
Interestingly, the CCCB project was one of the longest Jaén has ever worked on, despite using AI to generate the content. With Adobe Firefly returning so many different design ideas with each new prompt, Javier found himself getting as excited by the weird outputs as by the expected ones and taking the time to generate a result that combined the best of both worlds.
“Adobe Firefly offers designers a powerful way to sketch out and articulate their thought, and to bring surprising new perspectives into their creative process. For that alone, it’s worth trying,” says Jaén.
Ideas over fireworks
When asked how AI will affect the creative community, Jaén rejects the notion that algorithms will replace original thoughts and intention. “Great art will always start with great ideas. Without substance, the best you can hope for is content that makes a big bang in the moment and fades away just as quickly, like a firework,” says Jaén.
Indeed, the posters Jaén created for the CCCB exhibition could never work for any other brief. The final design may have been executed by technology, but the concept and story it tells are rooted in Jaén’s vision and intention.
Nor does Jaén see AI algorithms as a substitute for individual artistic style. “Style is the artist’s signature because it represents their way of thinking, in the same way that a comedian’s style is their unique view of the world,” he says. “If anything, generative AI tools like Firefly allow artists to push their style in more directions than ever.”
Creating magic in real-life
After starting his career as a one-man band, Jaén joined forces with other artists and photographers to bring their expertise into his craft and improve the quality of his work. The biggest evolution for Jaén happened when he began working with 3D modellers, which allowed him to bring complex concepts in his imagination to life in a tangible way.
Generative AI promises to change the game on a whole new level. Indeed, Jaén likens using Adobe Firefly to seeing magic happen before his eyes. But while he sees immense potential in the technology, Jaén believes it is too early to predict its impact on art, design, and other creative mediums.
His advice to fellow designers is to learn as much as they can and experiment with new solutions to understand what they can and cannot do. “Technologies like Adobe Firefly allow me to visualize my dreams, which is hugely inspiring,” says Jaén. “I don’t know what the future holds for AI, but I have every intention of digging deeper and finding out.”
For more of Javier Jaén’s work, check out his studio’s Instagram page.
And for details on the Artificial Intelligence exhibition at Barcelona’s CCCB museum, click here.